Avenue Calgary Weddings 2022

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avenue avenuecalgary.com

01.22 | $6.50

27 YEARS OF CITY / LIFE / STYLE / CALGARY

FLIP OVER FOR CALGARIANS WE LOVE

Photograph by TKshotz Photography, our readers’ choice for Best Wedding Photographer

WONDERFUL

WEDDINGS WEDDING WINNERS The best dress shop, florist, cake maker and more

A TOAST TO THOSE WHO HELP US CELEBRATE IN STYLE

REAL WEDDING STORIES How three local couples tied the knot last summer



Weddings 2022 P H O T O G R A P H S ( L E F T T O R I G H T ) B Y A D V E N T U R E C L U B P H O T O G R A P H Y ; TA R A L I L LY P H O T O G R A P H Y ; A D A M A N D A L E X A N D R A P H O T O G R A P H Y

ONCE AG AIN, WE’RE CELEB R AT I N G A N E W YE A R BY C E L E B R AT I N G W E DD I N G S . In our second annual Best Wedding Services online ballot, Avenue readers cast their votes for the businesses in the city and surrounding areas that go above and beyond when it comes to making a wedding day extra-special. All in all, more than 17,500 VOTES were cast, and while there are some repeat winners, this year’s results put a whole new group of local businesses in the spotlight. So, raise your glasses and join us now, as we toast the winners of our Best Wedding Services ballot for 2022!

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CONTENTS

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BE ST W ED D ING SERV IC E S W INN ER S

R E A L W EDDING ST OR IE S

The top vote-getters from our second annual online ballot, in which our readers weighed in on their favourite wedding businesses in the city, from cake-makers to dress-fitters, decorators and more. By Conchita Galvez

Meet three Calgary couples who tied the knot in 2021: two couples who threw double weddings in order to celebrate with everyone they love, and one couple who wanted a celebration just for the two of them. By Michaela Ream

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BEST BRIDE ATTIRE TAFFETA & TULLE BRIDAL

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his boutique bridal studio in Airdrie offers off-the-rack designer dresses and a wide selection of gowns for order. Current owner Marisza Cottam took over Taffeta & Tulle in 2018. Cottam’s passion for beautifully designed gowns began early on, when she started designing wedding dresses for her dolls. After studying fashion design and accumulating years of experience in the bridal industry, she began customizing gowns for brides. “I believe in providing brides with a personalized one-on-one bridal experience, and I pride myself in offering affordable gowns found nowhere else,” Cottam says. Taffeta & Tulle carries a range of Canadian designers, including Lis Simon, Bridalane and Cottam’s own Mish.Elle line, and offers customizable sizing, individual consultations and experienced alterationist referrals. 209 Bayside Loop S.W., Airdrie, 403-650-0248, taffetaandtulle.com, @taffetaandtullebridal

Best Bridal Party Attire

Last year’s winner for best bride attire is recognized this year for dressing bridal parties. Durand Bridal offers dresses by designers such as Bill Levkoff, Christina Wu Celebration, Kanali K Bridesmaid and Jadore Evening, in sizes 2 to 30. Each bridal party is given a dedicated stylist. “[We] assist them in finding the perfect dresses and make sure they feel beautiful and confident,” says co-founder Leslie Durand. 130, 9631 Macleod Tr. S.W., 403-454-2684, durandbridal.com, @durandbridal

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january 2022

P H O T O G R A P H B Y B R I T TA N Y H U N T E R , T H I S L I F E P H O T O G R A P H Y

DURAND BRIDAL


Best Hair

AT E L I E R B Y E N S E M B L E P H O T O G R A P H C O U R T E S Y O F AT E L I E R B Y E N S E M B L E ; J D S T Y L I N G P H O T O G R A P H B Y A D A M A N D A L E X A N D R A P H O T O G R A P H Y ; E V S T E N R O O S R E N D E R I N G B Y W O O D E N G U N

J D STYLI N G

Red Seal-certified hairstylist Jory Davie started out styling hair for editorial photoshoots and fashion shows, which led to creating elegant styles for brides. “I like being someone the brides can count on for their special day,” Davie says. “I like to be really open and I like everyone to feel comfortable.” She emphasizes the importance of creating an accepting beauty industry, safe for people of all races, sexual orientations, religions and genders. “My biggest thing that I tell clients is that we can always change the standards of beauty and make them our own,” she says. 915 9 Ave. S.E. (by appointment only), jdstyling.com, @jd.styling

Best Makeup SMUD G E & S M O ULD ER

BEST GROOM AND GROOMSMEN ATTIRE

104, 1212 13 St. S.E. (Dade Loft, by appointment only), 403-454-0243, evstenroos.com, @evstenroos

A graduate of Artists Within Makeup Academy, Avery Side brings a background in photography and an open mind to her career as a makeup artist. “Every canvas is unique and presents a new set of challenges and possibilities,” Side says. “I also do not shy away from any skin tone, skin type or any eye shape. I provide a fully inclusive beauty experience and make sure my kit is always stocked with a wide range of products for every face.” 403-831-3567, smudgeandsmoulder.com, @smudgeandsmoulder

Best Wedding Undergarments

B U T TER BE A UTY PA RLO UR

Best Jewellery EV ST EN ROOS

ATELIER BY ENSEMBLE

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telier by Ensemble is known for high-quality, custom garments handmade with fabrics from prestigious Italian and English mills. Founder Lauren Larsen combines her background in styling and eye for detail to create suits that fit seamlessly. “I am able to read a client and get a good sense of what they are looking for,” Larsen says. 303, 815 1 St. S.W. (by appointment only), 403-901-3199, atelierbyensemble.com, @atelierbyensemble

K N I CK ER S ‘ N L ACE

Willow Park Village, 403-225-1413, knickersnlace.net, @knickersnlace

Best Alterations I N GEN U I TY COU T U R E

2134 34 Ave S.W., 403-240-0001, @ingenuitycouture

Best Nails 2429 4 St. S.W., 403-215-3404; and Bankers Hall, 403-453-3404; butterbeautyparlour.com; @butterbeautyparlouryyc

Best Dry Cleaning/ Preservation STEP H EN CLE A N ERS

Multiple locations in Calgary and Airdrie, stephencleaners.ca; @stephencleanersinc avenuecalgary.com

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BE ST C AK E BL ACK DOG BAKERY

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helsea Radke, owner of Black Dog Bakery, brings more than 20 years of hospitality experience to her work creating showcase desserts. Radke graduated from SAIT’s pastry program in 2016, completing her Red Seal designation. Her unique wedding cakes play with textures and palettes, and are designed specifically for each couple. “I get to know my couples,” Radke says. “I’ll hear about what they want from their wedding day, and then, from there, build the design.” Her custom cake flavours include Earl Grey, “strawberry fields” and toasted coconut, though her signature flavour is salted caramel — a moist chocolate cake topped with caramel buttercream and caramel sauce salted with Vancouver Island Sea Salt. blackdogbakery.ca, @blackdog_bakery

Best Caterer

Founded by a husband-and-wife duo, Fork + Farm specializes in custom curated off-site catering and strives to work with local producers to bring its clients the best of Alberta. “Our menu is all over the map. Everything is handcrafted and made from scratch, right down to our bread,” says co-owner Jennifer Jeffery. Fork + Farm serves in a range of styles, including buffets and plated dinners, and offers bespoke menus crafted by a team of award-winning chefs and event professionals. An example of a winter menu is roasted B.C. wild mushroom velouté, pan-roasted PEI scallops, 72-hour braised Spring Creek short ribs and sugar pumpkin crème brûlée. 20, 920 28 St. N.E., 403-457-9931, forkandfarmcatering.com, @forkandfarmyyc

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P H OTO G R A P H BY A D V E N T U R E C L U B P H OTO G R A P H Y

FORK + FA RM CATERED EVENTS


SAY

“I

DO”

AT THE ZOO! The Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo provides the perfect mix of elegance and fun for you and your wedding guests. Enjoy an unforgettable event with our one-of-a-kind venues and delicious locally sourced cuisine. For more information, visit: calgaryzoo.com/events/weddings



BE ST MOBILE B AR SERV ICE THE PROSECCO CART

P R O S E C C O C A R T P H O T O G R A P H B Y K R I S T Y - A N N E S W A R T , U P A N D A W AY S T U D I O S ; R E B O O T H P H O T O G R A P H B Y K E N D A L + K E V I N P H O T O G R A P H Y

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or the second year in a row, Avenue readers voted the Prosecco Cart the city’s Best Mobile Bar Service. Jennifer Currey’s converted 1970 Piaggio Ape is equipped with taps of cold beer, wine and Prosecco. In addition to serving beverages, the Prosecco Cart creates a picture-perfect setting, complete with fresh florals and vintage glassware chosen to compliment the theme of the wedding. For Currey, the enjoyment of running The Prosecco Cart comes from being a part of someone’s special moment. “Watching people get married is probably the most fun part for me,” she says. “I get to participate in someone’s best day.” 403-826-3405, proseccocart.ca, @theproseccocart

BE ST W EDDING FAVOUR S

Best Dance Lessons

RE B OOTH P HOTOB OOTH

F REE SPI RI T DANCE

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eBooth offers a highquality, non-traditional photobooth experience complete with live view, DSLR camera, studio lighting, an ultra-fast photo printer and a photobooth attendant. With customized layouts and a wide variety of backdrops and props, ReBooth is designed to be accommodating. Company president Jeffrey Manabat says ReBooth has a “genuine serviceoriented mindset” and that couples hire them “to add fun to their special events and not to be a source of their stress.” 403-606-0609, rebooth.ca, @reboothphotobooth

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Free Spirit Dance owner Theresa Tucci describes her studio as a “judgmentfree” space. Tucci created Free Spirit after she stepped out of her comfort zone and started taking dance classes in her early 20s. “It’s good to try new things. You never know what you might find out about yourself,” she says. The studio offers instruction in a diverse range of styles, including Bollywood, hip-hop, salsa and belly dance. For weddings, Free Spirit Dance offers first-dance choreography, techniques on first dances with parents and flash mobs to get the party started. 112 16 Ave. N.W., 587-288-4056, freespiritdance.ca, @freespiritdnc

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Best Decor/Rentals CHAIR FLAIR

Event decor company Chair Flair can transform any room in any style — from rustic-chic to luxury-glam. Shannon Collins started Chair Flair in 2005 when she was 23 years old and opened a showroom and warehouse space eight years later. Her company now averages more than 500 events a year. “To transform a venue and bring visions and dreams to life is really such a pleasure,” Collins says. 18, 11651 40 St. S.E., 403-923-8751 chairflair.ca, @chairflair

Best Floral Services

Best Invitations PAPER + PETALS

hollylovespaper.ca @hollylovespaper

Best Gift Registry HUDSON’S BAY

Multiple Calgary locations thebay.com, @hudsonsbay

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january 2022

F L O W E R S B Y J A N I E P H O T O G R A P H B Y J U S T I N E M I LT O N ; C H A I R F L A I R P H O T O G R A P H B Y P H O T O S W I T H F I N E S S E

FLOWERS BY JANIE

Flowers by Janie specializes in garden-inspired wedding designs, using seasonal and locally grown blooms, whenever possible. “My team and I pride ourselves in creating beautiful, timeless designs that couples can look back on for years to come,” says lead designer and artistic director Janelle “Janie” Gerestein. 403-700-8299, flowersbyjanie.com, @flowersbyjanie


BEYOND THE GATES YOUR DISTINCTIVE WEDDING AWAITS 18057 272 st.

w, foothills alberta weddings@azuridgehotel.com azuridgeweddings | azuridge

azuridgehotel.com


Enter the 2022

ENTER UNTIL

march 31, 2022 MadeInAlbertaAwards.ca

A WEDDING EXPERIENCE AS UNIQUE AS YOU 220 – 42 avenue se | 403 287 9255 alloydining.com | @alloyrestaurant | events@alloydining.com Émilie Photography | photosbyemilie.com

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BEST WEDDING BAND CHIXDIGGIT

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hey might not be the most traditional of wedding bands, but, for Calgarians of a certain vintage, legendary local pop-punk band Chixdiggit is guaranteed to get the dance floor hopping. With their engaging stage presence and a repertoire that includes an ode to Sikome beach, even Granny and Grandad can dig it. paquinartistsagency.com/roster/artist/chixdiggit @chixdiggitofficial

Best DJ/AV Service H I TE C H P RO D U CT I O NS

403-827-1405, hitechproductions.ca, @hitechyyc

BEST OFFICIANT C H I X D I G G I T P H OTO G R A P H BY S COT T CO L E ; J P W E D D I N G S P H OTO G R A P H BY T W O M A N N ST U D I O S

JANE PAT ERSON JP W EDDI NGS

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ppointed as a wedding commissioner in 2015, Jane Paterson comes from a background in customer service and believes it’s her personable character that allows her to form instant connections with people. “I love meeting all of the wonderful couples. I don’t think I have ever had anyone who I didn’t enjoy being around,” she says. “I can think of nothing better than to help a couple design a ceremony that reflects who they are and how they wish to celebrate the lifelong commitment they are making to one another.” 403-803-1132, jpweddingsyyc.com, @jpweddingsyyc

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TKSHOTZ PHOTOGRAPHY/ TKSHOTZ PRODUCTIONS

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or the second year in a row, readers voted Tkshotz the winner for Best Photography and Tkshotz Productions the winner for Best Videography. Owner Todd Kwiczak, who left a career in the trades to pursue photography, says his main goal is to make every client feel celebrated through light, connection

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and story. Tkshotz has also proven to be highly innovative and adaptable. During the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the team began offering a livestream wedding service to virtual guests unable to attend in-person. “We continue going forward by being adaptive and creating great work for our couples,” Kwiczak says. 403-700-1792, tkshotz.com, @tkshotz

FIORE FIN E E V ENTS Fiore Fine Events offers day-of-wedding management, month-of-wedding management and micro-wedding management services. Founder and lead consultant Ashley-Dawn says she has been passionate about planning events since childhood. “What I really specialize in are the details, the logistics, just coming in and taking things on when they are stressful,” she says. “I take all of that stress and put it onto myself so the couple doesn’t have to.” 403-585-5224, fiorefineevents.com, @fiorefineevents

january 2022

P H OTO G R A P H BY T K S H OT Z P H OTO G R A P H Y

BE ST P HO T O GR AP H Y/ BE ST V IDE O GR AP H Y

Best Wedding Planner


YOUR DAY, YOUR WAY, IN OUR NEW BALLROOM

www.carriagehouse.net 403.253.1101

sales@carriagehouse.net @carriagehouseyyc

BEAUTIFUL FROM THE INSIDE OUT

By Appointment (403) 225-1413 knickersnlace.net avenuecalgary.com

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BEST INDOOR VENUE (OVER 100 GUESTS) WHITE DIAMOND CONFERENCE CENTER

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BEST OUTDOOR VENUE AZURIDGE ESTATE HOTEL

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estled in the Foothills, just 20 minutes outside of Calgary, Azuridge Estate Hotel is an oasis of luxury and privacy. The 13-acre estate features a 13-room boutique hotel, with a sheltered outdoor lounge and a stage adjacent to a pond amidst manicured gardens. Couples that book the entire estate for their wedding are provided with a personal butler devoted to meeting the needs of the bride and groom. “That could be as simple as fetching a mimosa or running into town to get a wedding dress pressed,” says wedding director Michaelle LeManne Lamb. “The most common thing I hear from my brides is that they feel like they are in a fairy tale.” 178057 272 St. W., Foothills, 403-931-0100, azuridgehotel.com, @azuridgeweddings

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january 2022

W H I T E D I A M O N D P H OTO G R A P H CO U RT E SY O F W H I T E D I A M O N D CO N F E R E N C E C E N T E R ; A Z U R I D G E P H OTO G R A P H BY P M G I M A G E

ocated in the heart of Chinatown, White Diamond Conference Center opened in 2018 and can host events for up to 500 people. The family-owned and operated venue provides in-house decorating and catering services specializing in more than seven different cuisines. Often a venue for interracial or interfaith weddings, the culinary staff have become skilled at intertwining various cuisines, as well. General manager Ravi Behal says clients enjoy the flexibility of having a wide range of services provided through the venue. “We are able to custom design weddings, whether that is through food or decorations,” Behal says. “However, we are also open to working with our industry partners and collaborating with them.” 130 3 Ave. S.E., 403-951-4000, whitediamondcc.ca, @whitediamondconferencecenter


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riverweddings.ca


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Bridal Beauty Tip: Botox

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Mention 'Wedding Ready' at your first appointment for $100 bridal bonus and a chance to win $1,000 Grand Prize photo credit: X

SUNSHINEMOUNTAINLODGE.COM 1.877.542.2633

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BEST INDOOR VENUE (UNDER 100 GUESTS) THE INN ON OFFICERS’ GARDEN

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I N N O N O F F I C E R S ’ G A R D E N P H O T O G R A P H B Y @ B R A N D I E _ S U N L E Y ; L A V I S H C A N V A S P H O T O G R A P H B Y H E AT H E R J O H N S T O N C R E AT I V E

ocated in a historic building in the community of Currie, The Inn on Officers’ Garden is a boutique hotel and dining destination with a variety of event spaces on the premises that are ideal for weddings with smaller guestlists. One of these venues, the Event Hall, features a raised ceiling with a globe light fixture, hardwood floors and a charming fireplace dating back to the 1930s. Brides can get ready for their special day in the hotel’s QE II Hospitality Suite, which has a sitting room, bedroom and luxurious bath. The Inn also offers in-house photography, videography, floral services, preferred vendors and a salon. 150 Dieppe Dr. S.W., 587-885-1995, theinncalgary.com, @theinnyyc

BEST UNIQUE VENUE L AVISH CANVAS 403-862-1940, lavishcanvas.com, @lavishcanvas

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A celebration of celebrations

2021 & 2022

Winner of Avenue's Best Weddings Services: Dry Cleaning & Preservation

February 27

Eco Friendly Dry Cleaning & Laundry Specialists Family Owned & Operated Since 1962

www.stephencleaners.ca

EAT

DRINK

STAY

CELEBRATE

It’s time to celebrate life’s special days together again. Join Venue 308, The Brownstone and Avenue to experience this celebration of celebrations. T I C K E T S A N D I N F O R M AT I O N AT

AvenueCalgary.com/Celebrate

The Perfect Venue for you and your guests Contact our event team today! 587.885.1995 events@theinncalgary.com theinncalgary.com

featuring

P L U S S P E C I A L G U E ST S Aura Inner Beauty, Azuridge Estate Hotel, Black Dog Bakery, eluo, Fiore Fine Events, JD Styling, JP Weddings, Melissa Dawn Event Designs, Smudge & Smoulder, Stephen Cleaners, Tkshotz Photography

150 DIEPPE DRIVE SW JUST OFF CROWCHILD TRAIL IN CURRIE 20

january 2022


BY MICHAELA REAM

Real Wedding STORI ES

P H O T O G R A P H B Y B R I T TA N Y E S T H E R P H O T O G R A P H Y

ast year was the year of the “at last” wedding, when couples who had to defer their 2020 nuptials were finally able to say, “I do.” This was true for two of the couples featured here, both of whom also spread their 2021 celebrations over two days. One couple had two celebrations in order to include all the friends, family and colleagues from their original

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guestlist, while the other hosted two weddings to honour their shared Nigerian heritage and have their North American church wedding, too. The third couple, however, didn’t want to wait and eloped in the mountains of B.C. It all goes to show that, while good things certainly do come to those who wait, they also come to those who don’t.

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Brendan K lem and K ara C homistek’s Two

“WEHADTWOENGAGEMENTS, ANDTHENWEENDEDUP HAVINGTWOWEDDINGS.” KARA CHOMISTEK

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rendan Klem and Kara Chomistek spent years working in the same industry without ever crossing paths. Klem is an editorial and commercial photographer, while Chomistek is cofounder of PARK Production House, a company that made its mark putting on large-scale fashion shows promoting local designers. They knew the same people, just not each other. It wasn’t until a match on Tinder that they met officially. By date number two, they knew they wanted to be together. Klem proposed three years later. At the time, they were both busy with work and his romantic proposal was almost derailed by unplanned events. He still managed to propose, and Chomistek still said yes. But, when their original wedding had to be postponed due to the first wave of the pandemic, Klem saw an opportunity to “re-propose.” This time, it was a well-executed surprise. Klem took Chomistek on a romantic revisiting of moments in their dating history, starting at Phil & Sebastian, site of their first date, and ending at their favourite restaurant, Model Milk. Along the way, Klem gave Chomistek notes rekindling key moments from each date. The whole time, Chomistek had no idea what was going on. “I thought we were just having a really nice date night,” she recalls. When they returned to the spot where Klem first proposed, he dropped to one knee again and proposed with a second custom-made engagement ring. “It’s kind of hilarious because we had two engagements, and then we ended up having two weddings,” Chomistek says.

P H O T O G R A P H Y B Y B R I T TA N Y E S T H E R P H O T O G R A P H Y

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Spec ial Days

january 2022


Initially, the couple was planning on one big wedding. When they were able to start planning again, they decided to split the big day to ensure everyone from their original guestlist could still safely attend. The first wedding was on Aug. 28, 2021, with just family and childhood friends. The couple had a religious ceremony at Sacred Heart Church (something Chomistek’s mother wanted) and a reception in The Oak Room at the Fairmont Palliser Hotel. Chomistek knows well the ins and outs of planning an event, but, this time, she turned things over to wedding planner Kelly Lannan. “I just wanted someone else to take care of me for the day,” Chomistek says. The Fairmont Palliser’s food-and-beverage team created a custom menu that included Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Peach Cornflake mille crepe cakes. For photography, the couple brought in Utah-based Jonathan Canlas, an accomplished wedding photographer and longtime mentor of Klem’s. A week later, on Sept. 4, the couple had their second wedding with a guestlist of friends and colleagues. They held a symbolic ceremony at Deane House and followed it with a backyard reception at their home. They did hire a second wedding photographer, but also handed out disposable cameras to guests. Despite the trials of planning and replanning, Chomistek and Klem agree they ended up with not just one, but two great wedding days. “The most memorable parts were seeing every single one of the guests just smiling and having a blast,” says Klem. For Chomistek, the most memorable part was the calm before the “I dos.” “I had absolutely no hesitations, and there were no reservations about us being together as a couple,” she says. “There’s no doubt that this is who I’m supposed to be with.”

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Akin and N kem E weje’s

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or years, Nkem Nwankpa (now Eweje) and Akin Eweje were told they would make a perfect couple. They finally met in June 2015, when Nkem attended Akin’s sister’s bridal shower. As soon as Nkem recognized Akin, she knew she needed to go talk to him. They ended up talking throughout the rest of the night, exchanged numbers and began dating soon after. Akin proposed in February 2019, and the couple originally intended to marry in 2020. After multiple pandemic postponements, the couple finally married this past August. Nkem and Akin chose to have two weddings in honour of their Nigerian and North American heritages: Nkem is of Nigerian descent, though she was born and raised in Calgary, while Akin was born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria. “[Nigerian weddings] are big,” Nkem says, with

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a laugh. “But it’s because the wedding is never just for you; it’s for your entire family.” The traditional Nigerian wedding ceremony and reception took place at Waterfront Park under a tent from Simply Elegant with 120 guests in attendance. Before the ceremony, Nkem’s family served kola nut to Akin’s family to formally welcome them. Akin’s family then declared their intention for their son to marry Nkem. This then kicked off the igba nkwu (wine carrying) ceremony, where Nkem carried palm wine while dancing through the crowd searching for Akin. It’s a symbolic moment for the bride to find and declare to all that her fiancé is the man she wants to marry. Over the course of the day, the bride wore three different outfits. The first two represented her Igbo heritage. To greet the guests Nkem wore an orange two-piece set made from handwoven Akwete material from Nigeria,

january 2022

P H OTO G R A P H Y BY K I N D R A P H OTO S

Celebration of Two C ultures


paired with traditional beaded accessories. For the igba nkwu, she wore a turquoise dress crafted from traditional George fabric with a gold icafu (head tie) and ivory coral beads, while Akin wore a traditional Igbo white tunic. The couple then changed into matching outfits paying homage to Akin’s Yoruba heritage. Guests wore traditional Nigerian formal dress, with the women in head ties and beaded headpieces and the men in tunic tops. At the reception, Nkem and Akin experienced the “money spray,” where guests shower the newlyweds with cash while they’re dancing as a blessing for their new life together. Two days later, the couple had a church ceremony at Parkdale United Church, followed by a second reception for 300 guests at Empire Banquet Hall. For the ceremony, Nkem wore a North American-style white wedding dress and Akin wore a suit.

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The reception still wove in Nigerian elements, with vibrant decor, traditional dancers and Nigerian foods added to the North American catering spread. After dinner was served, the bride changed into Nigerian attire as the couple made a second entrance into the venue. Nkem’s mother also changed her outfit to match Akin’s mother’s — a symbol that the two families are now one. “It was awesome to be able to bring a piece of Nigeria to Canada,” Nkem says. Despite their big days being postponed, Nkem and Akin agree their weddings were still perfect. For Nkem, the wait just made the moment they were officially married all the sweeter. After signing the marriage licence, the first thing she did was start dancing. “I was just so excited,” she says, laughing. “After all these years, and after everything, we are actually married.”

“[NIGERIANWEDDINGS] AREBIG,BUTIT’S BECAUSETHEWEDDING ISNEVERJUSTFORYOU, IT’SFORYOURENTIRE FAMILY.” NKEM EWEJE

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K aren and S a m a n t h a Ryan’s Alpin e E lop e m e n t

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january 2022

P H O T O G R A P H Y B Y TA R A L I L LY P H O T O G R A P H Y

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aren Ryan, co-founder of Ryan Murphy Construction, is a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. So, for her, it’s no coincidence that, when she enrolled in an accessibility certification course at SAIT, she ended up with Samantha Proulx (now Ryan), principal of ABE Factors Inc., as her instructor. Six months after their classroom meeting, the pair began dating. The moment Samantha says she knew she was serious about the relationship was at a social function, when another woman came to speak with Karen and, in doing so, moved to stand between them. “Right at that moment, my lioness came out, and I just knew I was so in love with [Karen],” Samantha says, laughing. After a year of dating, a few days before New Year’s Eve in December 2020, Samantha casually teased the likelihood of getting married in the next year. Karen hinted it was a possibility, despite secretly already having a ring. On New Year’s Eve, she dropped to one knee and surprised Samantha with the question. With most of their families living in Ontario, and pandemic restrictions in place, planning the wedding wasn’t straightforward. Initially, the couple toyed with the idea of a typical wedding and reception, but most wedding venues were already booked into 2022. “We didn’t want to wait, and we didn’t want a super long engagement,” says Karen. The couple’s busy work lives also made the idea of planning a big wedding a bit overwhelming. So, they started considering a wedding day for just the two of them. The idea of eloping, Samantha says, made them feel both excited and relieved — especially when they found Whistler Elopements, a business that handles all planning and documentation aspects for couples who want to elope in Whistler, B.C. Karen and Samantha drove to Whistler, stopping in Vancouver to pick up Samantha’s brother and his girlfriend to act as witnesses. On July 19, Karen and Samantha boarded a helicopter and were flown to a remote spot, just below the peak of Serratus-Dione Col Mountain in unceded territory of the Skwxwú7mes and Lil’wat First Nations, for


an intimate ceremony designed to reflect themselves and their relationship. The couple wrote their own vows — Karen jokes that, while hers were four sentences, Samantha had written a book. “It’s very typical of our relationship, though,” Karen says. Samantha says she always knew she wanted something different from the traditional white wedding dress. When she saw a black wedding dress on the TV show Selling Sunset, she started looking for one for herself. She found her dress at The Bridal Centre in Calgary. Karen chose an all-black suit from Umberto Custom Tailor to match, and the couple both sported rainbow socks. Set against the backdrop of the mountains with sweeping views, the couple says they couldn’t have had a more perfect day.

“WEDIDN’TWANT TOWAIT,ANDWEDIDN’T WANT ASUPERLONG ENGAGEMENT.” KAREN RYAN

“We got to spend all day together and just enjoy every moment of it,” Samantha says. “It was awesome. I wouldn’t change a thing.” Later, the Ryans had an intimate reception in the wine cellar of Whistler’s Bearfoot Bistro, that included the opportunity to participate in a long-standing Bearfoot custom of opening a Champagne bottle with a sabre. The trick involves sliding the blade along the body of the bottle in a quick motion to shear off the top. One of the Bistro’s staff raised the stakes, telling the couple of an old adage that says, if you shatter the bottle, the same will happen to your marriage, while a perfect cut means a lifelong marriage. Samantha says that, upon hearing this, she refused to sabre the bottle, but Karen accepted the challenge. Needless to say, she succeeded. This, and everything else seems to have set this couple on the right path. “I’ve always dreamt of my one and only,” Samantha says. “And now I got my one and only.” avenuecalgary.com

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A Four Season Wedding Destination Located in the spectacular Canadian Rockies and just a 3-hour drive from Calgary, Fernie is an authentic, boutique-style mountain wedding destination.

Nick Nault Photography

Plan your memorable day at one of the many scenic locations with the convenience and expertise of local wedding professionals.

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